One of the biggest challenges in prescribing doses of nature to children and families is ensuring that parents follow through. It can be frustrating to make a recommendation only to find that the family didn’t comply.
Busy families have lots of distractions. But in order to the turn the tide on nature deficit disorder, we need to be sure that parents are empowered and informed about how to use nature therapeutically.
Here are some of my best tips and tricks to encourage parents to follow through with their child’s nature prescription:
1. Be clear and specific
It’s simply not enough to tell parents to take their kids outside. With the burden of over-scheduled lives and technology overwhelm, your passing recommendation will get lost in the shuffle unless it’s concise and direct. That is why I give every parent a written nature prescription. Yes, I have a nature prescription pad. That way, we are all clear on what is being prescribed, how often, and how much.
2. Be confident in your recommendations
Having knowledge builds confidence. And confidence builds trust. There are reasons why I recommend urban gardening for children with chronic stomachaches or recurrent allergies. And why I suggest raw milk from the farmer’s market for children with respiratory issues. And because I can relay that evidence-based perspective to parents, they trust and believe in what I say. Build your knowledge base, and it will build patient trust.
3. Co-create a nature treatment plan with the parents
Parents determine what is realistic for their family. I can suggest a nature therapy, but if it’s not feasible for the family rhythm it doesn’t happen. Always think of your relationship with the parents as a collaboration. We have to meet them where they’re at. Over time we can help guide their family culture to include nature and natural rhythms.
4. Let them know that you’re here for support
Being a guiding light for families as they reconnect to nature is awesome! It’s so great to hear about the “aha” moments and major wins that children and parents experience as they transform their health with nature. But remember to be there for the challenges too. Sometimes parents need advice or reassurance about their nature-based approach. Be a good listener, tell them you’ll touch based in follow-up appointments, and let parents know early on that you are there for them.
5. Give parents nature-based handouts and checklists
Offering parents nature-based handouts and checklists further reinforces your prescription. It also greatly increased patient compliance. Plus, checklists can be fun and can give a child or family a sense of accomplishment as they check off nature activities or projects. I love making handouts that they can hang on their fridge or easily carry to the park. Give it a go and your patients will thank you!
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